blog logo image

Archive for the ‘Pressroom’ Category

Aid Transparency: Will Obama and Romney Walk the Walk?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
Bookmark and Share

MFAN’s Co-Chair George Ingram writes about how aid transparency is critical to making U.S. foreign assistance more effective in a new op-ed. Ingram urges the Obama administration to continue to push forward on steps it has taken to increase transparency—especially as part of the Open Government Partnership—as well as positive action in Congress, including last month when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012.

Notably, Ingram also cites Bulletin No. 12-01 issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which directs 22 U.S. government agencies to publish foreign assistance data in a common format consistent with the standards of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

Read Ingram’s full op-ed in The Huffington Post here.



MFAN Statement: Lugar-Rubio Bill Signals Commitment to More Transparent, Accountable Foreign Assistance

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

September 19, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

In a period of intense political polarization, MFAN is pleased that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came together to pass The Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310) earlier today. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates broad agreement that the U.S. has an important role to play overseas and that we can drive better development outcomes with these critical reforms.

S. 3310 was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking (SFRC) Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), with the support of SFRC member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as a companion measure to H.R. 3159, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) that has garnered 55 cosponsors in the House. Both bills would improve the overall transparency of and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance by establishing a common standard for measuring the performance of programs across every federal agency that administers foreign aid and ensuring that such evaluations and reports are made publicly available to American taxpayers.

S. 3310 builds on bipartisan legislation sponsored by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar in the 111th Congress (S. 1524)—and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—that sought to increase the accountability and transparency of U.S. foreign assistance. It also reinforces important efforts by the Obama Administration to improve aid transparency, including creating the Foreign Assistance Dashboard to collect comprehensive reporting from each agency engaged in overseas development.

The U.S. approach to development must be a partnership between the executive and legislative branches, and we believe the passage of S. 3310 in SFRC is a strong indication of greater cooperation in the months and years to come. We urge the full Senate to approve this bill before the end of the 112th Congress and look forward to working with members of both the House and Senate on its passage.


Tweet Stream: Bush Administration’s Legacy on Global Development

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Bookmark and Share

Last Wednesday, MFAN co-hosted a panel discussion with the Consensus for Development Reform (CDR) on the George W. Bush Administration’s legacy on global development moderated by Johanna Nesseth Tuttle, Vice-President, Strategic Planning, and Co-Director, Project on U.S. Leadership in Development, CSIS. The panel included: Ambassador John Danilovich, Former CEO, the Millennium Challenge Corporation; Ambassador Mark Dybul, Distinguished Scholar and Co-Director, Global Health Law Program, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University; Inaugural Global Health Fellow, The George W. Bush Institute; Former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; Gary Edson, Executive Director of the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund; Former Deputy National Security Advisor, Deputy National Economic Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs; and The Honorable Jim Kolbe, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund; Former Member of Congress and Chairman of the House State/Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. We also opened with welcoming remarks from Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on African Affairs.

We’ll put together a recap of the event, but for now take a look at MFAN’s live tweet stream (@modernizeaid) of the event in reverse chronological order:

  • Edson: we need a new paradigm and that new paradigm is private sector-led #development
  • Edson: Obama admin needs to recreate that coalition to have impact on reforms
  • Edson: we also saw a coalition form between secular and faith-based, democrat and republican
  • Edson: we changed the conversation from inputs to outcomes. We began w what do we want to achieve and then how much do we need to get there
  • Edson: under the bush admin there was a revolution for the way#development was conceived and implemented
  • Gary Edson: don’t push for a cabinet level development agency; make the current system work and spend time helping people who need it.
  • Dybul: we shouldn’t provide program dollars but instead provide technical assistance and support at the local level
  • Dybul: what’s the role of BRICS in development? Don’t want to provide ODA but aren’t low-income countries; need new model
  • Lots of great audience questions on what to do about budget cuts and whether the international community has caught on to#foreignaid reform
  • Dybul: we need to change how we talk about public-private partnerships. Look at core competencies of a corp & match them to a dev project
  • Kolbe: we need to focus more on partnerships and how the public and private sectors can work better together to achieve our goals
  • Danilovich: these are American programs for the benefit of the American people.
  • Danilovich: we need leadership to allow private sector to take burden off of taxpayers
  • Dybul: we need to identify areas where we have private and public#development projects and coordinate better to reduce barriers
  • Dybul: last idea was the economic growth has to be the engine of#development. We need to emphasize the private sector role
  • Dybul: another idea was good governance. This went beyond tackling corruption to building out US interagency coordination on#development
  • Dybul: third idea was partnership frameworks growing out of idea that the US couldn’t do everything, everywhere.
  • Dybul: one foundational idea was results-based development and setting targets. Second idea was country ownership.
  • Dybul: all Bush admin initiatives, PEPFAR, PMI ect, grew out of same foundational idea from Monterrey consensus
  • Dybul: Obama admin is trying hard to take principles from previous admin & push them in new directions; this is a bipartisan effort
  • Danilovich: challenge now is where do we go from here? Who takes leadership?
  • Danilovich: MCC was not created as challenge to #USAID but as unique alternative and experiment and it has since proven its value
  • Danilovich: MCC was a revolutionary idea even though it’s logical to expect results from investments made and be held accountable
  • Jim Kolbe: budget crisis changed things dramatically & there seems to be an attitude again that our programs have not been as successful
  • Jim Kolbe: Remarkable leadership & commitment from President Bush, plus significant congressional leaders who were all receptive to change
  • Jim Kolbe: Overall, there was a general attitude that our #foreignaidwasn’t working well; Bush administration capitalized on this attitude
  • …and MFAN’s co-chair Jim Kolbe!
  • Our moderator Johanna Nesseth Tuttle @csis_org introducing our panelists: ambassador John Danilovich, ambassador Mark Dybul, Gary Edson…
  • @SenatorIsakson: we have to do some tough cutting but every cut needs cost benefit analysis. We need to make strong case for#foreignaid
  • @SenatorIsakson runs through success stories of MCC investments incl Tanzania and Ghana

Amanpour Explores Foreign Aid with Deputy Secretary Tom Nides

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

Last week, Christiane Amanpour sat down with Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides to discuss the state of foreign aid and what investments in foreign aid mean for U.S. national security. Amanpour begins the piece by looking back at then-candidate Obama’s pledge to double foreign assistance before noting the renewed calls to eliminate foreign aid from several GOP hopefuls. During the interview, Deputy Secretary Nides pushes back on recent criticisms to foreign aid spending by noting how these programs are both cost-effective and central to our national security: “For every dollar you spend on assistance, it saves you five dollars for boots on the ground.” See the full interview below.


MFAN Co-Chair Jim Kolbe and Rep. Ted Poe in Roll Call

Thursday, October 20th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

In a new op-ed for Roll Call, House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-2) and former Rep. Jim Kolbe argue that modernizing the U.S. foreign assistance system will helps us confront challenges abroad while making the most effective use of every dollar spent. In Rep. Poe’s new bill introduced last week – the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2011 – he outlines specific actions, such as establishing clear guidelines for measuring the impact of programs, that will help streamline U.S. foreign assistance and make it more efficient. See below for the full op-ed:

Poe and Kolbe: Shedding More Light on U.S. Foreign Aid

The United States faces myriad challenges around the globe. We are engaged in military conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia. We are pursuing terrorists in far corners of the world. We respond when other countries need help by offering humanitarian aid to cope with crises — from famine in the Horn of Africa to earthquakes in Haiti and tsunamis in Japan. At the same time, we compete with China and other emerging economies to maintain our position as an influential and powerful force in the global economy. Clearly, the need for effective U.S. global engagement is more important than ever.

Meanwhile, at home, we are confronted with a skyrocketing domestic budget deficit that places enormous pressure on all areas of the federal government’s budget. While re-evaluating how we spend American tax dollars at home, we must also closely examine how and where we spend our international assistance budget.

The basic question is this: How can the U.S. maintain leadership overseas while adjusting to the shrinking federal budget at home? We believe the answer must be through smart and strategic reforms that make foreign aid programs more efficient and effective. The bottom line is that America cannot continue to advance our political, economic and security interests abroad without serious and long-overdue reform of foreign assistance programs. We believe that the best path forward is through enhanced coordination, accountability and transparency on both sides of the assistance equation — donor and recipient.

Since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act in 1961, foreign aid programs have spread across 12 departments, 25 agencies and almost 60 federal offices. However, according to the conclusions of an independent study commissioned by USAID, “current monitoring and evaluation of most U.S. foreign assistance is uneven across agencies, rarely assesses impact, lacks sufficient rigor, and does not produce the necessary analysis to inform strategic decision-making.”

There are encouraging examples of effective monitoring and evaluation programs to be found, such as the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s Impact Evaluations and USAID’s new Evaluation Policy, but there is no clearly defined set of standards that is applied to all foreign assistance programs that would allow policymakers to make rational choices in a world of limited resources.

What’s more, most foreign assistance programs operate in the dark. No one really knows how the money got there in the first place or where it is going. In a recent comparative study by the Brookings Institution and the Center for Global Development, the U.S. ranked 22nd out of 31 countries when it came to transparency of its foreign assistance programs.

On Jan. 11, the State Department and USAID launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a public, online resource that allows users to examine foreign assistance investments in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. Although the site is a good start, by USAID’s own admission, it is incomplete — the site includes only aid programs from two of the 25 federal agencies that administer aid.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act gets at both of these problems. First, it requires the president to establish — and the heads of federal agencies to implement — guidelines on establishing measurable goals, performance metrics and monitoring and evaluation plans for all foreign assistance programs. Second, it codifies what is currently being done through the State Department and USAID’s Dashboard initiative. It would make foreign aid more transparent by increasing the amount of information available to the public, including country-development plans, Congressional budget justifications, actual expenditures and reports and evaluations by subjecting all agencies responsible for aid programs to exposure on the Dashboard.

There is growing bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for other reform ideas, as well. Research has shown that the earlier a government-administered program engages the private sector, the more likely it is that the program is going to lead to sustainable economic improvement. It is also common sense to require that recipient countries take proactive measures to combat corruption and promote financial transparency so that we have some assurance our foreign assistance dollars are not being diverted or wasted. These are just a few examples of reforms that have the support of taxpayers, the administration and nongovernmental organizations.

Many of these reform proposals would enhance the efforts that the Obama administration has undertaken through two forward-looking initiatives — the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Congressional action is needed, however, to ensure that the reforms enjoy bipartisan political support and have a lasting effect by codifying them into law.

Given the challenges that our country faces domestically and around the globe, it is necessary that we modernize and reform our foreign aid system, which is a relic of the Cold War. We need a leaner system where money is spent strategically in places where it is in the national interest of the United States. There must be measureable goals and ways to monitor the success (or lack thereof) of the assistance. We must make the foreign aid process more efficient and stretch our dollar further. Making the United States’ foreign aid process more strategic and efficient will strengthen our ability to confront global problems, overcome them and help lead the world to a brighter future.

Rep. Ted Poe (R) represents Texas’ 2nd district. Former Rep. Jim Kolbe (R), a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and co-chairman of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, represented Arizona’s 8th district from 1985 to 2007.